Urban One invests in a studio

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New Atlanta venue will support Rickey Smiley, Willie Moore Jr. and more shows

Posted: May 30, 2022

A version of this story appeared in Radio World’s e-book “Spectacular Radio Studios”.

A new studio serves the Urban One office in Atlanta.

The company’s Radio One and Reach Media branches have operations there, and this studio will be used by the Atlanta-based members of “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show”, whose main studio is in Dallas. The hall will also serve as the main creative studio for “The Willie Moore Jr. Show” and “The Nightly Spirit.”

“It was a one-studio build, but not a small project,” said Vic Jester, chief engineer of Radio One Atlanta, who was network manager on the project. The physical construction and design was done by Warren-Hanks Construction and McAfee3 Architects. The integration was primarily done by Bohn Broadcast Services, which sent Paul Burt and Micah Dempsey as on-site engineers for the job.

“We used a space that had been a temporary production studio and an adjacent show prep area. We completely removed all existing partitions, floors and ceilings,” Jester said.

“We then built new interior double-stud walls with layers of double drywall on both sides, a new exterior sound insulation wall inside the exterior wall of the existing building, and a new hard, spring-suspended ceiling. on the ceiling, for insulation of the floor above. .”

The team then installed acoustic insulation fabric on the interior wall surfaces to match Urban One’s existing studio suite. “We are on the 12th floor of a downtown high-rise building, so excellent soundproofing is required from noise from the street and adjacent tenants.”

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A transition highlighted here is the move to audio over IP.

“Our facilities were built when AoIP was on the horizon, but it was not yet a viable option. Our central router and studio work surfaces are all TDM-based. We’re transitioning to WheatNet IP-based audio routing, but we’re not quite to the point where we can completely switch to that.

So they opted to reuse a legacy Wheatstone G-4 digital work surface and satellite frame from purchasing a station and integrate it into the existing router system.

“It is a testament to Wheatstone that they are still able and willing to support a 16 year old infrastructure in this regard. The new studio is not entirely TDM-based, as we have WheatNet IP blades in the studio for microphone processing and control functions.

Key elements also included WideOrbit Automation for radio, and VoxPro and Adobe Audition for audio editing. The team repurposed their EV RE30 microphones, dual Stanton CD decks and Mackie HR824mk2 active monitor speakers. They purchased new Yellowtec monitor and mic arms along with a new Wheatnet M4 Mic processor.

The custom cabinets were from Studio Technologies, whose owner Vince Fiola traveled to Atlanta from Philadelphia to deliver.

Jester said the project includes installing studio lighting and cameras to provide video to the web division. “My former CE assistant Jason Staten, who now works as a freelance cinema lighting technician, was the lead designer for this component.”

Jester noted that many broadcasters are in a period of transition in how they handle such projects.

“Some companies are thinking about how to reduce office space. Some are downsizing every part of their operations. In this case, Urban One invests in studio space and creates an environment for network operations to thrive. It provides a space where on-air talent and producers can collaborate face-to-face, delivering a better product to affiliates. Reach Media Radio Division CEO David Kantor, Atlanta Vice President/General Manager Tim Davies and Vice President of Engineering John Soller were willing to invest in infrastructure here, especially when many other businesses reduce or eliminate their ability to produce content.


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